When it comes to this gathering, trash talk is encouraged.
More than 30 amateur "green'' designers will come together Friday in the Largo Cultural Center for the fourth annual Trashy Fashion Show. The Tonne Playhouse will be transformed into a brightly lit house of fashion. "Trashionistas'' ranging in age from 9 to 55, will get a chance to strut their stuff on a 27-foot runway, showing off their creations made from reused or recycled material.
Expect garments created from such items as shredded paper, bottle caps and used electrical tape.
Last year, a winning entry was a strapless minidress made of junk mail, including discarded Seventeen magazines and 19 self-addressed envelopes.
"Our goal with this event is to bring awareness to the amount of trash we produce and find creative ways to repurpose that waste," said Marissa Segundo, Largo's recycling coordinator.
There will be several returning contestants, including Wanda Rosario of Dunedin.
Rosario, who has competed the past two years, was named "trashiest designer'' in 2009 for a gown made of recycled linen.
This year, Rosario plans to wear a minihalter dress made of 600 pop tops and yarn recycled from an old baby blanket. She created the garment for her wedding reception last August.
"The show has been a way for me to combine my passions of designing and recycling,'' said Rosario, 50. "I started to sew as a young girl in New York when my father worked in the Garment District, and he'd bring home fabric for my Mom and I to use.''
When the Trashy Fashion Show started four years ago, those attending weren't quite clear on what to expect, said Segundo, 31. "But with each year, we keep getting bigger, and I think the message is hitting home. People understand now that this is about recycling, and it's more than a fashion show.''
This year marks the first time organizers have received an entry from outside the contiguous United States. "We have a participant from Alaska this year,'' Segundo said.
That would be Michelle Devine, an artist from Anchorage. Although she's unable to make the trip, she sent her design, dubbed "Gone with the Wind Meets Auto Yard.'' The full-length evening gown that converts into a sundress will be worn by a model from Modeling at Any Age, a Palm Harbor company owned by Ro Martinez, who is volunteering her expertise.
Devine, 60, heard about the show after an old friend who lives in Seminole sent her an e-mail. She immediately contacted Segundo about participating.
"I love what (Largo) is doing down there,'' Devine said by phone. "I live by the saying 'Waste not, want not,' and I make my art out of all sorts of recycled items, scrap metal and so many other things. This design is made out of an old car cover that a friend dropped off for me because she knew I'd use it.
"I wish I could be there to see the whole show. Maybe next year.''
Along with the main event, those attending are invited to go to the Green Expo from 5 to 7 p.m. at the cultural center. It will feature businesses and organizations that focus on sustainable environmental practices.
Piper Castillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.